HBOS £11m sex discrimination and bullying claims withdrawn

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The Independent Online

The biggest sex discrimination claim yet filed with a British employment tribunal was dramatically withdrawn yesterday.

Claire Bright, the former head of asset and liability management in the treasury department at HBOS, was seeking £11m from the banking group after filing sex discrimination and victimisation claims last December.

But yesterday the bank issued a statement saying all the claims had been dropped and no compensation was being paid to Ms Bright, who is no longer working at HBOS, where she oversaw a budget of £140m.

The statement said: "HBOS can confirm that the Employment Tribunal claims brought against it by Claire Bright have been withdrawn.

"Ms Bright has accepted that her allegations of discrimination, victimisation and bullying against HBOS or any of its employees during the course of her employment or afterwards were unfounded and they have been withdrawn without any compensation in respect of the allegations."

In the case Ms Bright had claimed she was suspended in October 2005 when she made a complaint about her boss Cliff Pattenden, after a clash with him over her working from home. The claim stated that she was then prevented from returning to work in January.

The £600,000-a-year banker, who juggled her career with bringing up three children, had accused her boss of behaving like a "mini Hitler". The case brought by Ms Bright featured a number of sharply critical allegations about his and the bank's conduct.

But HBOS had always insisted it would vigorously defend its position should the case reach the tribunal. It had been due to be heard at Stratford Employment Tribunal in East London soon. Ms Bright's lawyer was unavailable for comment yesterday afternoon and HBOS said it had agreed not to speak further on the case.

Banks have been increasingly willing to fight such high-profile claims in recent years. The previous highest claim was brought against Merrill Lynch by banker Stephanie Villalba. She sought £7.5m but was also unsuccessful.